Tastiest catch

Demand for North Carolina seafood is growing as the local-foods movement has stretched from farms to other foods. The issues that come along with that increased interest are explored in “North Carolina’s Local Catch” on UNC-TV tonight at 10 p.m.

The program explores seafood caught on the coast, the challenges facing those who harvest it and the place of fishing in the state’s coastal heritage.

Chefs from Lone Cedar Cafe in Nags Head and Sammy’s Seafood House and Oyster Bar in Morehead City, along with people from coastal seafood markets, talk about using local seafood – and how to tell that it’s local in the first place.

That’s always the question, isn’t it? Even on the coast, I’ve learned to ask questions about menus and which restaurants are really dedicated to local seafood. Not everything you eat on the coast is locally caught. For example, the season for N.C. shrimp doesn’t start up until the summer, so if you see fresh shrimp in January, it’s unlikely that it’s local. I’ve been told by coastal restaurants that because flounder is so popular with diners, they feel they must have it on the menu, even out of its local season. (I usually order whatever the special of the night is, because it’s most likely to be local and unusual.)

Educate yourself about local seafood by looking at the North Carolina Seafood Availability Chart from North Carolina Sea Grant. Sea Grant’s site has additional information about local seafood and efforts to promote and preserve it. It also participated in funding for “North Carolina’s Local Catch.”


Food news roundup

Andrea Weigl’s column in The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) explores the fact that the Community Supported Fisheries delivery she signed up for has not been exactly upfront about some of its offerings not coming from North Carolina waters.  Read more here. Weigl believes the misinformation wasn’t intentional. But it raises an issue that has been in the back of my mind. Now that “eat local” has become so popular, some people may begin to view it as a profitable marketing tool. At the moment, consumers must trust restaurants, stores, etc., that the items touted as locally caught or grown actually were. Eaters should continue to ask questions, educate themselves about what is in season and when in North Carolina, and get to know farmers, chefs and producers.

The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer examines how Target’s touted low grocery prices really stack up. Grab your cart and head here.

If it’s not hot enough for you right now, fire up some Hot and Sour Soup from Cary’s Super Wok. The recipe is in the Independent Weekly (Durham. N.C.) here.

NestMeg begins exploring German food after producing a truckload of cupcakes.

For generations in North Carolina, ramps were something you ate because you were desperate for something green after the cold winter, and it was an excuse for a festival that drew political candidates and moonshine. Now, ramps are haute. They were all over Manhattan menus when I was there a few weeks ago. Now, LeitesCulinaria urges us to pickle them. In ‘shine, perhaps?

A video of two top New Orleans chefs making crab and corn bisque is a hoot. It’s at the Times-Picayune, here.

And this has nothing to do with food, but y’all should read it. It’s the blog by Scott Huler, North Carolina’s Piedmont Laureate, here. This one is about little league baseball, but the blog is usually on just about anything. See it here.